SOC229 Lecture Notes - Desroches Island, Orillia

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SOC 229 Final Exam
Modules 11-16
Module 11: Rules, Roles, Players & Risks of the Game
1) Rules of the game
(a) 3 main rules
I. No exchange of biological information-everyone was silent
II. Did not include children or teens
III. No coercion and no money exchange
(b) All the risks were real, so the main function was to reduce the risk-so
they cannot be identified
(c) The participants typically leave separately and there would be no
2) The Players
a) Straights- people that actually use the washroom, they are in there for a short
period of time and then leave. They are easily identified and are rarely
b) Enlisters- teens who want to engage-but they will get avoided
c) Toughs- teens/adults who want to cause trouble and harm these men
d) Hustlers- people who want to engage for money-they are avoided
3) Insertee and Insertor Roles
A. Most common act is fellatio-but one person performs
B. Insertee performs fellatio-sometimes performs on more than one person
C. There is no verbal communication-maybe a “thank you” at the end
D. Insertee is usually older-they are less threatened because they are more
open about their sexuality
E. Insertor is the preferred role-you have more choice when you are younger
F. Aging crisis- this means that people find older men unattractive so they
will accept the insertee role
G. Waiters- all men who want to play the insertor role will wait because they
want someone to play the insertee role
H. Insertee takes initiative
I. All acts usually takes place in the stall because it is more convenience-the
insertee can sit (be more comfortable if they are performing the act more
than once) this way it is less likely to get caught
4) Non Verbal Gestures and Tearoom Sex
a) Gestures are ambiguous, exploratory, tentative and cautious
b) They will wait and see how the other person reacts first before they
c) Gestures include:
I. Linger; take up time and look around
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II. Foot tapping; learned by graffiti or move their foot closer to the
patrician- if they other person move his foot closer to yours and
eventually your feet touch, it means both parties consent
d) Some go through the process quickly if they have had more experience
e) ‘Clearing the field’-insertor leaves quickly, but the insertee may stay
f) The whole point is this-fast impersonal sex
g) The average time of this is 18 minutes
5) Coping with intrustions
A. All acts will be broken off is someone new comes in-and will resume
when they leave
B. 3 mechanisms when someone new comes in:
I. Stop, cover up and face urinal
II. Look innocent-aka look away
III. Observe intruder- see if they are coming in for impersonal sex
6) Risks-The Police
a) Can get arrested
b) The participant can be blackmailed-its not common but its a possibility
c) Park/mall security-don’t have as much power as the police- but they can give
the participants a trespass warning or arrest them with trespass but NOT with
d) Most participants do not have a criminal record and are highly educated
e) In Desroches study, 4/5 communities posted their findings in the newspapers
f) The publication and press did not last long, but it affected the men-some lost
their jobs, families, etc. and some wanted to commit suicide
7) Risks-Tough and Venereal Disease
a) Toughs are more common in US- not in Canada
b) It is not common to extract a disease
c) HIV and other diseases CAN be transmitted but not likely
d) It does not harm anyone except the participants because put themselves in that
Module 11 Textbook Readings
Desroches. Tearoom Trade: A Research Update. Qualitative Sociology. pp. 46-49 and
pp. 53-56. (eReserve)
Humphreys refers to as “trade”-married or once married men with dependent
occupations, masculine appearance, and heterosexual in their orientation
Many of the participants in the tearoom trade maintain an outward appearance of
Since one participant chose to die rather than face his loss, this can be referred to
as anomic suicide by Durkheim
Humphreys describes these ongoing and sequential sex acts as "series
encounters," whereby sexual activity continues with differing men throughout the
day, "each group of participants trading upon the legitimization process of the
previous game" (t970:77)
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He also observes “simultaneous encounters” in which more than one sexual act is
in progress at the same time
Humphreys assertion that the rules and roles of tearoom sex remain essentially
the same from encounter to encounter
Tearoom Trade. Chapter 3, Rules and Roles, pp. 45-58.
Players engage in a game of chance, this risk taking can be referred too as “fateful
activity” by Goffman
The consequentiality of such action of two sorts: the immediate, sought-after
payoff and the long range contingencies, which may or may not be desired
Tactics are aimed at:
(a) Maximizing rewards
(b) Minimizing risks (and other costs such as fatigue)
Goffman settlement phase; when the outcome has been disclosed and lasting until
losses have been paid up and gains collected
Tearoom Trade, The Aging Crisis. pp. 108-109.
The insertee was judged to be older than the insertor in 40 cases
The idea that men who engage in homosexual acts may be typed by an
inconsistency of performance in one or another sexual role
The older you are, the more likely you will be the insertee
Preferences in sex role; based on the degree of contact with a network of friends
who share the actor’s sexual interests
Module 12: A Typology of Tearoom Participants
The People Next Door
Humphreys identified participants from license plates and interviewed them a
year later after observing them
Interviews were conducted in subjects home under the guise of conducting a
health survey
Had experiment group and study group
Humphreys learned about their families, employment, social and religious
background, health etc
A number of men refused to be interviewed with affects the representativeness of
the sample
Humphreys compared the 500 tearoom interviews with a control group of other
men in the health survey
62% of the men lived a heterosexual lifestyle
Humphreys suggest that wives were probably unaware of tearoom activities
Very hidden and deviant activity
He suggest that they choose tearoom sex to get fast sex
Found they valued their family and wanted to protect their family that’s why it
was kept so hidden
Humphreys Typology of Tearoom Participants- The Trade
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